In the Pyrenees mountains near Carcassonne, Alice, a volunteer at an archaeological dig, stumbles into a cave and makes a startling discovery-two crumbling skeletons, strange writings on the walls, and the pattern of a labyrinth. Eight hundred years earlier, on the eve of a brutal crusade that will rip apart southern France, a young woman named Alais is given a ring and a mysterious book for safekeeping by her father. The book, he says, contains the secret of the true Grail, and the ring, inscribed with a labyrinth, will identify a guardian of the Grail. Now, as crusading armies gather outside the city walls of Carcassonne, it will take a tremendous sacrifice to keep the secret of the labyrinth safe.
From the start I had a love-hate relationship with this book. One minute I was excited the next I was bored out of my mind.
The things I did like about this book were the extensive amount of research the author did into the history of southern France and the surprise twists at the end. In both the historical and modern-day settings, the author managed to fully bring the location of southern France and the Pyrenees to life in terms of landscape descriptions and culture. She also managed to fully paint a picture of what it would have been like to be in the crusades against the Cathar’s. I will say once again I really liked the historical setting and the amount of historical research the author did for the area.
The things that I didn’t find so impressive were the way the narrative flowed in a forgettable way making it easy to lose attention. Don’t get me wrong this wasn’t a slow-paced book I’m just saying it was written in an unremarkable manner making it quite putdownable. The length of the book also didn’t help. I also thought the characters could have had more depth to them as they never felt wholly believable and I’d have loved to have known more about them. The ending felt rushed and I felt there were important things left unanswered. It seemed like everything just fast forwarded like even the author had had enough of this book. That brings me on to the fact that a friend of mine said there were paranormal elements in this book. There were but they were far less exciting than what she promised and what I’d hoped as she said this book was brilliant. Huh, I guess we have different tastes…
In the end this was a well researched historical story with boring writing yet an interesting plot. I will read more from this author but I now know not to expect anything exceptional.
Who I’d recommend this for
I would like to have said anyone who is looking for a historical novel with fantasy elements but I won’t say that as a lot of the good bits were put aside. This is for people who liked well researched historical novels and don’t mind unbelievable characters and unremarkable writing.